The View from Inside the Carousel by Tom Kupsh
I was not able to participate in the public part of The Gathering of American Gods at The House on the Rock, although I did speak at one of our panels here at the Attraction.
Because I had a part in building the carousel (sculpting many of the custom creatures) and am very familiar with the whole machine, I agreed to guide the rides on the Carousel for our guests. We had practiced dry runs some weeks before the event but we weren’t really sure how it was going to go. The World’s Largest Carousel has been turning for 30 years, “collecting energy” as Wednesday would have it, but no guest had ever ridden it. The first time that I rode it myself was just six weeks before the Gathering when I was exploring how we would manage the rides.
I was the one, without a name tag, who guided riders to their mounts and kept an eye on things as we rode.
As I led each lucky rider to their place I looked back to make sure they were following me; they were looking up and down and like wide-eyed children lost in a magic place—which was true. Some said, “I can’t believe I’m here,” or “this is the greatest moment of my life….” I remember Miss Liberty sitting on her Lion with her wide smile and wide eyes. Halfway through the ride I asked her if everything was all right—what a silly question.
Who was the youngest rider all in red? Eyes darting everywhere--speechless I think.
Each time the lights went up and we started to move I heard gasps and the riders turned their heads looking up at the brilliant chandeliers and then around at the sea of color. Then they waved and the crowd cheered as we swept by ( loudest when Neil rode), and there were flashes, and waves of costumed figures, and masks in a blur and the mirrors on the back wall where they could see themselves racing by on The World’s Largest Carousel. And the music, the too-loud music out there in the crowd was just right for us.
The reporter and photographer who came here all the way from the UK had not in their wildest dreams expected to ride. It turned out that we had space for two on the last ride and they were in the right place at the right time. As this last ride began Denise (reporter) said this was totally unexpected and fantastic, and then, with tears in her eyes she said, “Here I am a hardened reporter and I’m having a moment.”
The man in the military uniform said, “It’s good to be a child again, if only for fifteen minutes.”
All the rides were over, each one ending with more cheers and applause. An hour later, some of the riders passed by—they still had those same smiles on their faces—I hope they never recover.